NABOKV-L post 0006012, Fri, 8 Jun 2001 19:44:28 -0700

[Fwd: Re: "The Asphalt Jungle" and Lolita]
Barbara --

Good post and good thoughts on "The Asphalt Jungle" -- that jukebox
scene is
pure Huston, and it's one of my favorites. In fact, I think I noted
years ago on this forum, or perhaps in an e-mail to one of the members,
Doc's attraction to this young girl reminded me of Lolita. But the
connection with the jukebox eluded me.

Whether it gave Nabokov ideas, I don't know. I'd like to hear what
Appel has to say, if he's out there. While the basic plot of "Lolita"
been in VN's head for decades by then, and Humbert is a comparatively
younger man than old Doc, it would not surprise to me learn that VN got
jukebox detail from Huston.

Rodney Welch
Columbia, SC

> From: "D. Barton Johnson" <>
> Organization: International Nabokov Society
> Reply-To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>
> Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2001 10:13:50 -0700
> Subject: "The Asphalt Jungle" and Lolita
> ------------------
> 'Doc' Riedenschneider (Sam Jaffe), criminal mastermind and brain behind
> the
> heist in John Huston's 'The Asphalt Jungle' (1950), displays distinctly
> Humbertian tendencies - he has a weakness for teenage girls. Early in
> the
> film we see him distracted by pin-up girls on a calendar, but this small
> detail of characterisation is played out expertly at the end of the film
> when the Doc gets caught by the police because he stays too long in a
> roadside cafe watching a pretty teenager dancing to a jukebox. Although
> he
> is running away with a case full of stolen jewels, the vision of this
> girl
> dancing stops him in his tracks, so much so that he even supplies her
> with a
> pile of nickles to feed into the jukebox so that he can watch her for a
> little bit longer. The parallels with HH feeding nickles into 'gorgeous
> jukeboxes' are marked, but there are also echoes of Lo in this young
> anonymous girl. She is an innocent, totally unaware of the Doc's
> motives,
> and is simply grateful that someone is letting her have some fun. She is
> quite happy to oblige this older man, and has only just been complaining
> to
> her boyfriend that he doesn't know how to give her a good time on a
> date.
> Huston, however, ensures that the audience senses the danger in her
> blindness to the Doc's response to her, whilst the suspense generated by
> the
> tension between these two characters both complements and amplifies the
> overall suspense of the movie. The parallels between the 'Doc' and HH
> are
> overt. The Doc is a European, a German, and like HH, his perversion is
> related to the idea of his being an alien and therefore solitary figure.
> And
> of course, like HH, his weakness leads to his ultimate demise.
> I wonder, if VN saw this film (it was nominated for several Oscars in
> 1951),
> whether it gave him a few ideas...
> Barbara Wyllie